Barbara Jung (by way of Pit Schultz <>) on Thu, 15 Feb 96 20:09 MET

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nettime: in the middle of history

Ięm quite new in this group and although it seems
to me unusual to reply to a posting I would highly
appreciate any comments to the following text.
Since it is a hypertext document, I put the links in
the annotations below (I just wrote down one branch


Barbara Jung

_In the middle of history..._
..we were told we had left history behind us.
In the midst of the experience of continuity one would
have us believe, everything was discontinuitites,
breaks, jumps... - so now I would like to continue.
Hardly anyone talks about the first aspect of
poststructuralist philosophy today: about
_posthistory_, a fair eschatological point of view.
The second aspect, with a more emancipating character,
has become a truism.
The _new_ (which is defined by its discontinuity) as a
release from the torment of continuity (Slavoj Zizek)
doesnęt fit well to another commonplace:
that everything is connected with everything else.
So then, what now? While thoughts on the discontinous
have been reduced to sloganeering, and interpreted as a 
license to do this or that arbitrarily, the paradigm of an 
omniscient contextuality (derived from particle physics)
exhorts us, directly opposed, to continuity and
responsibility. I don`t know how the idea of being tied into
reacting interconnections (what else does _interactivity_
mean?) on the one hand and on the other finding delight in 
ubiquity and unconstrained personal contacts (as celebrated in
the newsgroups)can be so easily brought together.
The hymn of praise on unlimited exchange is shaded by the fact
that it works only in an atmosphere without any obligation.
Bridled by netiquette it seems that on the net there is an
unspoken agreement that what happens there should have no serious
consequences. That is a real necessity. Dissemination on the
net is similar to what all _reproduction_ is like. Walter
Benjamin mentioned rather more artistic criteria in his
writing about the work of art in the age of its technical
reproducability, like the loss of the aura. But there are 
_social aspects_ of reproduction as well.

(1)The possibility of interactivity, the world wide spread of
information, that has become so simple, attempts certainly as well
to make one forget oneęs own _social_(2) ineffectuality. I donęt
want to say that the availability of much information compensates
for a real loss of oversight, as if the structure of information lies
automatically in its quantity - on the contrary, itęs funny how
Black-Box-methods succeed where it becomes uninteresting as to
what goes on between input and output - while in the WWW with its
incomprehensible structure the Black Box gains the overhand and
becomes an end in itself.

(2) Networking is aimed less at social than at individual change,
whereby one asks if _the social_ exists at all, as individuals are
homogenized into minorities and groups according to (doubtful)
characteristics. Once individual improvement stands open also to
members of otherwise silent minorities, then they canęt be
collectivised from the outside, because membership is decided only
by the command of jargon and the recognition of netiquette.

       __                   jung-b
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   __ \&%/ /&%\           
  /&%\ \&\ \&%/                       (Barbara Jung)
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   \&\ \&%/ /&%\
   /&%\ \&\ \&%/
   \&%/ /&%\

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